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bloomer Visiting my blog, eh? Wise move. I think we should all try to understand other people, no matter how stupid their beliefs.

Title: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 17, 2010 (11:16 PM)
My horror game Leadlight for the Apple II has just finished competing in the 2010 Interactive Fiction Competition. Players voted on as many of 26 entries as they could play within six weeks, during which time game authors were not allowed to publicly discuss their entries or those of other authors online. Now that the competition is over, myself and the other authors can stop being all secretive about what we've been doing!

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Leadlight placed 14th out of 26 with voters, and also won the Golden Banana of Discord for being the game which achieved the highest standard deviation amongst the scores it received. The game was written in 8-bit code for the Apple II, which made it an anomaly amongst the 90% of entries written with the state of the art Inform system.

The Inform games have unlimited RAM and file space at their disposal. Leadlight has to do everything it does in 35 kB of RAM, and fits on two 140 kB floppy disks. That the game was still able to gather fans and pass almost half the Inform entries in placings was a great result for me, and I think a vindication of one of the ideas embodied in the game's presentation, which is that creativity in game design is more important than the technology used.

That said, there are a good number of reviews of the game online complaining about that technology, two-word parsers, the need to play on an emulator, the font colours of the Apple II display, etc.

A couple of folks from HG helped playtest and debug this game, and they did an excellent job because players found no typos and only one real bug in Leadlight. Janus was the preconception-free test player, and ASchultz was the veteran who double-checked everything and also wrote perl scripts to help analyse the Apple II code. I thank them both for their great contributions.

I just today put up an updated 1.1 version of the game.

The game website is http://leadlightgame.com

For those who play, I hope you enjoy it. If you don't know what the hell's going on, there's a huge FAQ, a downloadable Player Guide and a hint sheet.

There were lots of horror games in the competition this year, and if you like zombies or Silent Hill type shenanigans, I would also suggest playing 'One Eye Open' and 'Divis Mortis'.

It already looks like all of ASchultz, Zig and Zipp could be in the comp next year. I can't rule myself out, but this was a huge project so I obviously don't know at this point.
[reply]

zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 18, 2010 (01:05 AM)
Thanks for sharing Bloomer. I love to hear these stories. That's incredible about the Apple II programming. I don't really understand what it means, but I get the gist of the work that it created. I think there is art to be found in the process of how something is made. Maybe you were tapping into that belief yourself...?
[reply]

bloomerUser: bloomer
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 18, 2010 (06:26 AM)
Thanks Zipp. Yeah I definitely am interested in the art or engineering feat of it - I guess a lot people looked at the game and said 'it can't do A or B or C', and I inevitably kept being amazed by what it could do, given the 1mhz 8 bit 6502 CPU I was programming with.

An obvious technical example is that, if you're using inform, you have a huge set of default verbs you can use, and you can add an unlimited number more if you need to. You can do anything you want without worrying about hitting some kind of wall.

Leadlight's already at the point where the game would cease to operate for lack of RAM if I added one more verb to its parser. So it is a very precise piece of programming tailor made to do exactly what is necessary to make the game work.
[reply]

aschultzUser: aschultz
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 18, 2010 (12:25 PM)
Reverse engineering (the process of finding how something works) is most definitely an art. The person who wrote R wound up reverse engineering the Scott Adams file format. I suspect a lot of IF veterans may've found this guy not to be terribly smart based on the game, but MAN. That's cool, what he did.

That's how Inform was created, by reverse engineering the Z-machine format. At the Chicago-IF meetup, one of the participants was actually in touch with Marc Blank (?) who still has the original z-machine specs. Apparently Blank is not drawing it out right away and sort of likes to be asked, but doesn't want to give it out too soon. Even though he isn't big on being interviewed, it seems he likes the memories.

I've had a lot of fun mailing the authors and it seems they really appreciate the feedback. Somehow having the relatively simple games allows me to feel like I can ask questions, and it's been a boost in all the stuff I wanted to try.

As for Inform proper, it would be neat to like have an HG study group or something every, say, month or so for a couple hours. But maybe that is looking too far ahead. Still, Inform has very low barriers to entry, especially with all the extensions it has.
[reply]

zigfriedUser: zigfried
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 18, 2010 (06:21 PM)
Leadlight is awesomely creepy, just in case anyone was wondering.

//Zig
[reply]

zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 22, 2010 (06:14 PM)
Bump. More people should be playing this. It's like Choose Your Own Adventure on bad crack.

It's the story of a girl who finds herself trapped at a school where everyone is being horribly murdered. And, hey, unlike most modern IF... you can actually die! Horribly!
[reply]

zigfriedUser: zigfried
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 22, 2010 (07:27 PM)
Dying in modern IF is rare? Unspeakable evil! Only Bloomer can save this world! Now he has the look of a hero!

//Zig
[reply]

zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 23, 2010 (02:32 AM)
It is! It was one of the things I talked to Aaron Reed about, too. I think his explanation was spot-on.
[reply]

bloomerUser: bloomer
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 24, 2010 (07:32 PM)
Thanks. This hero talk has been good for me so far.

The game has got the front page news at Complete Adventure Game Solutions atm:

http://solutionarchive.com/
[reply]

zippdementiaUser: zippdementia
Title: Re: My game 'Leadlight' finishes IFComp, now playable by public
Posted: November 24, 2010 (09:56 PM)
I'm going to review it at some point in the near future.
[reply]

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